Spirit of Aluta literally descended on Lagos on Friday morning, igniting fierce millennial optimism to its fullest.
Students across all tertiary institutions in Lagos State turned out massively to endorse the re-election of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
The Mobolaji Johnson Arena in Onikan, where the students held their endorsement concert, throbbed with various Aluta jingles, which also indicated their support for the All Progressives Congress presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The students, who filled up the 10,000-capacity stadium, were led by union leaders from their respective institutions.
Schools in attendance included Lagos State University, University of Lagos, Lagos State University of Science and Technology, Lagos State University of Education, Yaba College of Technology, and Federal College of Education (Technical), Akoka, among others.
Also at the event were the leaders of the National Association of Nigerian Students, National Union of Lagos State Students, and associations of non-indigene students.
The students, speaking through the Lagos NANS chairman, Tolulope Olusesi, openly declared Sanwo-Olu as their father, investing the Governor with the honour of “Five-Star Aluta General” in the South West.
Olusesi said the priority accorded the tertiary education in Lagos by the Sanwo-Olu administration was unrivalled, describing the upgrade of former Lagos State Polytechnic and Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education as “top-notch”.
Students’ Union President of LASU, Adeoye Adelakun, said the tertiary education programmes and policies implemented by the Governor were designed to support students’ academic aspiration.
Under the Sanwo-Olu administration, the LASU union president said the school had its standards raised and rose to become the Best State-owned University in the country. He added that the Governor complemented his support for LASU with the building of a magnificent students’ arcade for union activities.
Adelakun said the students resolved to reciprocate the Governor’s gesture by giving him support for the second term, stressing that Sanwo-Olu’s re-election would further enhance education value in Lagos.
He said: “This endorsement rally is quite significant and it is different from what others have been doing. We are students and we are direct beneficiaries of Sanwo-Olu’s education programmes. We have seen the firsthand impacts of Mr. Governor’s policies and we are out here to appreciate these efforts.
“On behalf of Lagos State University students, I express our appreciation for making the school as the Best State University in Nigeria. This is because of nothing but the academic standing of the school. We are also thankful for the gift of the students’ arcade, which is the best of its kind in Africa.”
National Public Relations Officer of NANS, Giwa Yisa said Sanwo-Olu regarded students as valuable stakeholders in his Government, noting that the apex students’ body in the country rated the Governor higher than his peers because of his education programmes.
“We are all witnesses to how Sanwo-Olu is laying solid foundation for the future leaders right from primary schools to tertiary institutions. We cannot afford not to have him back in office; the Governor must be supported to continue this good work,” Yisa said.
NULASS National President, Akinola Shasanya, thanked the Governor for raising bursaries paid to indigenes of the State across tertiary institutions, stressing the State Government had been prompt in paying the money to the beneficiaries.
Shasanya said NULASS members were unanimous in their decision to support the Governor for second term.
Students’ Union President of LASUED, David Okechukwu, an Anambra State indigene, commended the Governor for maintaining non-discriminatory policies in tertiary schools in Lagos.
Sanwo-Olu said the large turnout of the students validated his administration’s modest efforts at improving education in the State, noting that the students’ choice in the coming general elections would shape their future.
The Governor said the “Greater Lagos” he promised had started to unfold across areas, urging the students to support the endorsement with highest number of votes from their constituency.
Sanwo-Olu said: “I thank you for coming out in large numbers to validate our education programmes being implemented in your various academic institutions. The Greater Lagos we promised is rising rapidly and you are beginning to see the impacts, given the meaningful progress across your schools. When other tertiary institutions went on strike, we protected you from the pain. We kept you in school and there was no single day your institutions were shut.
“This is an evidence that what we are about is your future. We are committed to providing more opportunities to shape your future. We are creating the ambience for you to explore your passion and become responsible citizens. That is why we are continuously asking you to work with us and support us in delivering the future you desire.
“By choosing to be with us, you are entrusting your future and the future of the coming generations with us. We are not taking your support for granted. I pledge we will never let you down. You must go out and vote en mass for APC in the presidential elections and in State elections. When Tinubu is elected president and we are returned as Governor, there would be a lot of opportunities that will be provided for you to become champions in your chosen career.”
The Governor fulfilled his promise to the students, presenting high-capacity buses to aid their movement to and from their campuses.